As the Gingrich balloon sinks back to earth under the weight of its own bombast, Airship Romney motors along, buoyed by the improbability of the alternatives and imperilled only by…the Dark Cloud of Mormonism.
Maybe. To find out, the Salt Lake Tribune engaged Mason-Dixon to do some polling on religion and the GOP’s Great Race, and came up with the interesting info that while half of Democrats consider Mormons to be Christians, nearly two-thirds of Republicans do. What happened to all that anti-Mormonism in the Republican base?
I’m thinking that the prospect of having Mitt Romney in the White House is driving (some) Republicans to reassess their exclusion of Mormons from the Christian fold. Only last month, Pew found that little more than half of Republicans considered the Mormon religion to be Christian. (The margin was 54-33, compared to the Tribune‘s 63-20.) Fully 87 percent of Republicans want their presidential contenders to be Christian (as opposed to 67 percent of Democrats), so if you can’t beat ’em, let ’em join you.
Of course, it all comes down to choosing actual candidates, and mercifully, more pollsters are recognizing the need for including religious i.d. in their questionnaires. A case in point is Quinnipiac’s most recent Virginia poll, which has Gingrich and Romney running one-two at 30 percent and 25 percent respectively. Sure enough, Gingrich has disproportionately more evangelicals (34 percent) and Romney disproportionately fewer (22 percent). Even so, Mitt’s got as much evangelical support as the three evangelicals–Bachmann, Paul, and Perry–combined. If he does secure the nomination, I look for further revaluation of Mormonism’s claims to Christian identity.